José Feliciano featuring the Les Paul Trio
@ The Iridium, May 1st, 2017 by Ralph Greco
(photo by Anna Rodriguez)
I was lucky enough to have caught a legend the other night, with some wonderful musicians behind him, when José Feliciano fronted the Les Paul Trio down at the Iridium. I have caught Mr. Feliciano plenty throughout his career. In fact, back in the day (but I won’t reveal how far back) I caught Jose’ Feliciano at Carnegie Hall, in what was the first concert I ever attended. From that moment on, even though I was young and had yet to see all the great guitarists I would come to (mainly rock guys), the Puerto Rican guitar master struck me as playing on a different level than anyone else. At the Iridium Monday night, I was once again assured of this man’s singular talent.
What remains of the Les Paul trio-opened with a few sprite-y numbers, led by killer guitar player himself, N.J.’s own, Lou Pallo. Mr. Feliciano came out about fifteen minutes later and opened with this chilling rendition of “California Dreamin’” Although a master on the classical guitar (and electric as well, though this night he kept to the gut string) I was immediately taken with how great Feliciano ‘s voice sounded…one tends to forget in the face of all his amazing guitar prowess how audiences love Jose’ voice as well.
Joking with the crowd, telling stories, seemingly having a great time, we got some bawdy lyrics added to “Besame mucho,” a sweet read on, “In My Life” and of course, set ender “Light My Fire.” Along the way Mr. Feliciano managed to play the only instrumental of the night, his song “Affirmation,” a tune another great guitarist, George Benson, covered. This was certainly one of the highlights, catching the understated picking of Feliciano through this solid sweet melody.